Jan 08, 2014

    No letup to rough start for STI in the new year

    THE new year has been a downer for the local market, with shares racking up their third straight day of losses.

    The Straits Times Index (STI), which struggled through most of the day to stay in positive territory, slipped at the eleventh hour, ending down 2.94 points or 0.09 per cent at 3,120.88.

    Many of its regional peers did not fare any better. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.6 per cent and Australia's ASX 200 fell 0.2 per cent. But the Hang Seng in Hong Kong and the Shanghai Composite bucked the trend, albeit marginally, by 0.1 per cent.

    A weaker-than-expected report on the service industries in the United States could have weakened investor sentiments.

    Wall Street has also been lacklustre, with the Dow and S&P 500 having shed over 1 per cent since the start of the year after a roaring 30 per cent gain last year.

    The STI has had a rough start to the year and has shed nearly 47 points or 1.5 per cent over the first four trading days.

    "Besides the weaker-than-expected data, investors may also lack the conviction to enter at such frothy levels," said CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.

    The release of the US Federal Open Market Committee minutes and the non-farm payrolls report later this week may give investors clearer signs, he added.

    Trading volume on the local bourse stood at 3.86 billion shares worth $1.13 billion, with gainers outnumbering losers 211 to 180 while 397 counters were unchanged.

    Golden Agri-Resources led the losses, falling one cent or nearly 2 per cent to 54.5 cents.

    Sembcorp Industries slipped nine cents or 1.6 per cent to $5.40.

    OCBC Bank extended its losses, falling 12 cents or 1.2 per cent to $9.75 when it resumed trading yesterday, on worries over its bid for Hong Kong's Wing Hang Bank.

    The losses in these three counters shaved off nearly six index points from the STI.

    The two other banking stocks had a mixed day: UOB fell 13 cents to $20.72 while DBS Group gained two cents to $17.04.

    Singapore Technologies Engineering closed unchanged at $3.88. The firm announced that its marine unit bagged new contracts worth about $446 million in the fourth quarter of last year.